- Funds For Learning's 2017 E-Rate Trends report shows 79% of schools and libraries reporting that their internet is faster because of the Federal Communications Commission's E-Rate program, according to Ed Tech: Focus on K-12.
- Some have expressed concern about how the program will fare under the Trump administration, though lawmakers have questioned recent nominees in regard to any plans they may have to change the program — and while there are currently no plans to do so, the FCC has expressed interest in "optimizing" E-Rate.
- Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reportedly told Congress that he has long believed "E-rate is a program worth fighting for," but advocates have advised that schools and districts must be sure not to take the funding for granted.
One consideration that Pai has put forth regarding the E-Rate program in recent months is a particular focus on better connecting rural schools and districts to high-speed broadband. Many such communities have often long been underserved when it comes to the infrastructure necessary for access.
Additionally, former Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who was recently nominated back to the FCC by the Trump administration, has advocated for the program's potential to address the "homework gap." That particular issue relates to students who lack internet or device access at home but must complete homework digitally.
Those interested in applying for the funding for next year should also get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Specifically, administrators can file their Form 470 early to get ahead of the 28-day bidding process. The window closes around the end of February, and waiting too late can necessitate an additional Form 471 and result in a much more stressful bidding process.